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Comment Re:Doing it wrong (Score 2, Informative) 409

its not pointless -- its just not for you. We put these systems in lots of houses and when they are done right they make complicated systems very simple to use. Most of our projects have 8-16 rooms with digital music, video networks that can put any source on any TV and simple remote controls that make the whole thing work. It aint cheap, but done correctly you can make these systems work for competing viewpoints of husbands and wives. Typically husbands love tech -- dont mind seeing a stack of equipment in a room and see it as a normal part of everyday life that they need 3 remotes to watch a movie. Wives want to see the stuff disappear -- which is why you put speakers in the ceiling and have touchpads control music instead of having a stereo stack in each room you might want to listen to music in. These systems also let you have a nice clean look in media rooms. Most of our projects we put every piece of equipment in a server rack and control it all via RF remotes. This lets you just put a TV over the fireplace -- or just have a plasma and in wall speakers in the family room without having to cram a bunch of stuff into a piece of furniture you didnt want in the room. This is not for everybody -- but to our customers ease of use and aesthetics are important and they are willing to pay for them. Now there is a DIY crowd out there trying to use home depot quality stuff and x-10 tech. If this is all you look at, you will think the field hasnt moved in decades. The enthusiast market is filled with incomplete solutions and hacker tech. It may be fun to play with, but it aint wife friendly and it wont be reliable. This group tends to get overly focused on the cost of the gear and has very high expectations of performance ( this is from my viewpoint as a professional in the space ) As a company weve stayed away from projects where people want to use x-10 level of gear. Lastly -- and way off topic -- but there is some chatter about wifi growing up to handle these tasks. I'd put that at not likely with the current state of that spec. Its fine for laptops roaming around the house, but its too unreliable for home automation where it needs to work 100% of the time. We try to have anything that needs that kind of connectivity have a dedicated ethernet or we never really trust it. Its not all wifi's fault -- the embedded device code for wifi that is in most touch panels and equipment in the automation space has no clue how to handle a multi channel wifi network where it might roam -- this makes it pretty bad for what most people expect of it.

Comment Re:Doing it wrong (Score 2, Informative) 409

Zigbee is out and in the field with a couple of companies. One of my companies is a home automation company and we program and install products from Control4 and AMX -- both have support for zigbee. AMX with their remotes and control4 with pretty much their whole product line. The spec creates a mesh network where all of the devices act as repeaters -- which makes it much more than just a blutooth competitor. Case in point -- my house has 50 zigbee controllable lights in it -- and no dedicated repeaters. Since the lights are all decently close to each other -- the network size just scales. There are starting to be more products that have native support for zigbee -- theres someone selling remote locks that communicate their status as well as being controllable from other user interfaces -- think open your door with your iphone -- not your keys -- not sure thats useful -- but it can be done. Not to be confused with open source -- the control4 platform is linux based. As far as I can tell they only run it on their own hardware -- but when there are problems you can still telnet in and see whats going on.

Comment Re:Graduate Record Exam (Score 4, Interesting) 243

The paper scoring technology that I am familiar with ( used by the GRE's and some high school English classes ) cant be fed a random paper -- it needs to be trained on a particular assignment. Then it can score papers for that assignment. The success that they get with these is pretty surprising -- but the application is limited to these types of tests or curriculum that is designed around the assignments it has been trained for. The more interesting affect from this type of system reported from students ( not gre takers ) is that it lets them write a paper -- get it scored, make changes and see if they are getting better. When I was writing papers in high school -- you wrote it -- handed it in, then a week later got a grade and never thought about it again. This type of technology actually allows you to learn a lot more from one paper by iterating several versions and getting direct and specific feedback on how to improve.

Comment Re:Ya no kidding (Score 2, Informative) 681

This type of tax break also exists for startups -- I've run a couple of small software startups and we always incorporate in Delaware -- for both better laws for corporations and the tax break that is gives us. To do anything else is a waste of your investors money. You should always pay taxes you owe -- but you shouldnt go out of your way to pay some you can easily change your business to avoid. All businesses are motivated by cutting their costs of production -- this is one aspect of it.

Comment Re:Ya no kidding (Score 3, Insightful) 681

if you call extorting the state hiring a bunch of people -- who all pay local taxes -- building a massive campus with local contractors -- who all pay taxes in the state -- then -- yeah they are totally extorting them. Or -- should the state get a cut of a transaction that happens in all 50 other states that has almost nothing to do with them -- but more likely ms sales people that work elsewhere. MS is doing what every other software company does -- work within the law to not pay taxes to states that they don't have to. And its also perfectly legal when the state says that they will change the law -- to tell them that that will have a consequence. Governments think that they have a right to take a piece of every transaction they see - they also think that if a company has to charge more that their sales wont be affected making it free money for the state. They are wrong on both. A business like Microsoft understands that and you can be sure their shareholders would have a fit if they said -- hey our home state couldn't figure out we were in a recession and kept spending money and ran a deficit -- so were going to lend them a hand. And while were all being righteous about making sure we all pay our taxes here -- whens the last time anyone on this forum filled out a sales tax declaration after buying something on-line? That stuffs not actually tax free -- its just that the vendor doesn't have to collect it. You are still supposed to pay it.

Comment Re:doesnt matter to me (Score 2, Informative) 857

The article hints at the real reason cursive is dying -- and its not because it has only suspect use in our lives --- its because you cant test cursive on the no child left behind exams. Simple math then takes over -- the school looks at how much time they are spending on cursive -- and how much money they will lose if they dont get their scores up in other areas. NCLB is whats going to kill it - I wont miss it -- but its also the first useful non-intended consequence of that particular law.

Comment Re:Mortgage on my house (Score 2, Insightful) 891

if thats going into your personal account from the vendor directly -- and not a discount on server licenses or something to your company -- what you did was illegal. as they other side will know that as well -- you probably got paid under the table -- so now add tax evasion to that when you get caught. when this happens -- you'll never be asked to make any decision like this again -- you wont be able to get a job at any real company after they do a background check on you -- which thanks to the internet is now so easy, even hr can do it. if they paid that to your company, and your company decided to reward you for striking such a good deal --- then more power to you -- great job -- keep it up - you are an awesome corporate citizen.

Comment Re:UI polish, documentations (Score 1) 891

Perhaps -- just maybe -- high quality software, is worth money. Crazy idea on this forum, but its why we have a software industry in this country. Also -- the definition of "worth money" is what you are talking about here -- an installer that works, a gui that makes sense to a casual user, updates that do not require a comp sci degree to install. All that stuff is a pain to develop, its not sexy, its not fun, its not cool. Ive had people quit after trying to write an installer its so painful. So -- what makes it all work -- you have to pay talented people to write un-fun code, to make a product professional. Heres where it gets cool -- because you did that, you can charge money for it. Then you use that money to pay the talented developers to write not just to cool fun parts, but the boring required parts. Its the circle of life - or at least how professional software gets written and paid for. .

Comment Re:A good test (Score 1) 440

Thats the only model I would put up with as a job seeker. You can work on it during your off hours - so it doesn't interfere with your current job, the company gets to see your work and thought process, and if no job comes of it -- neither side is particularly hurt. All the rest of the models here are gotcha interviewing techniques, or so slanted to the employer that they will ensure that the best people don't bother with the process. I ran a shop of about 50 programmers, and the most important thing is finding the best people -- I cant imagine any of my A players having a problem with the model you went through -- I also couldn't imagine any of them leaving a job for another opportunity that was a 90 day temp job, or some probationary relationship with no benefits. Those models will narrow your job pool to only people that really hate their current job, or are struggling to find a job in the first place.
Internet Explorer

Reports of IE Hijacking NXDOMAINs, Routing To Bing 230

Jaeden Stormes writes "We just started getting word of a new browser hijack from our sales force. 'Some site called Bing?' they said. Sure enough, since the patches last night, their IE6 and IE7 installations are now routing all NXDOMAINs to Bing. Try it out — put in something like www.DoNotHijackMe.com." We've had mixed results here confirming this: one report that up-to-date IE8 behaves as described. Others tried installing all offered updates to systems running IE6 and IE7 and got no hijacking.
Update: 08/11 23:24 GMT by KD : Readers are reporting that it's not Bing that comes up for a nonexistent domain, it's the user's default search engine (noting that at least one Microsoft update in the past changed the default to Bing). There may be nothing new here.
Music

Rock Band To Allow Independent Artists To Add Their Own Songs 57

Bakkster writes "Independent artists will be able to use the XNA Creator's Club to produce the Rock Band note-charts for their music and sell them in game later this year. Bands will use their original song masters and generate a MIDI file that produces the game 'gems' to which players can follow along. Tracks must pass a review process with other XNA members, and then a final approval from MTV Games. Songs will be sold for between 50 cents and $3, with the artist getting a 30% cut after MTV and Microsoft take their cut. The best tracks will also make their way to the Wii and PS3 after a 30-day exclusive period."

Comment Re:I know why. (Score 1) 338

I'm just glad to see part of this thread actually discussing Feynman after reading 20 hater posts about silverlight. I could care less about silverlight -- Feynman was special to many in the science community, and clearly he was inspirational to Gates and many at Microsoft. ( you don't call something project TUVA if your not a Feynman fan ) I've picked up a copy of six easy pieces - a set of cassette tapes with his lectures on physics a few years back so my kids could hear him speak when they were old enough to appreciate the subject matter. I've been keeping an old cassette walkman around to play them and was worried that at some point they would become unplayable and lost to me. Knowing the publishing community - -they would just let this IP die and it would be lost. Reading that these would be available -- in any format -- is great news. Preserving the words of Feynman for future generations, whether as a scientist or a role model -- its kind of what this internet thing is for.

Comment Get a budget (Score 1) 902

Be like every other part of the corporation -- get a budget and track to it. if your only task is make everyone happy -- you are doomed. If you have every call go through a help desk system -- even if its just an email box -- you have a record of the calls, open tickets and can then report how many tickets a month you can get through. This will then let you have the reasonable conversation with your boss that if a department needs more service -- then you need a new hire to take some of the load. each person can get through x tickets a month -- we have 3x coming in -- we need more people. or even have the proactive conversation of -- we have 3x -- why -- what system is causing all the problems. or even --these 2 people are responsible for 70% of the tickets -- and since I made them log them all in email -- there being kind of a pain.

Comment Not Homebrew games -- actual money (Score 2, Interesting) 190

Homebrew games cost .005% of sales retail chain takes 30% of each sale. No Media means that everyone is buying from the sony store -- 30% more money for sony. No Media means no more used games -- good for game makers too. The end of the game store is here. Take a picture of Gamestop next time your there -- it wont be there for long.

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